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A chat with the greats

Lee Woodward Interviews Greg Earney and Danny Grant

CEO, Real Estate Academy

One thing that all the best performers in real estate sales have in common is this: they all know that people buy with people, not companies. People are not data or records or transactions – they are people, human beings with emotions, history and aspirations for the future. You are the company to the people you serve. No matter what brand you work for, everything will fall into place as long as you commit 100% to providing the best possible service to the people who own property in your business development area. If you promise to give your all to serving people as opposed to simply looking for the next transaction you can make, you will be successful, just like industry superstars, Greg Earney and Danny Grant.

Greg Earney

Get to know your clients

Greg Earney is one of the leaders of Methven Professionals in Victoria. He learned a defining lesson when he was just starting out in real estate. Just twenty when he joined the family business, a pivotal conversation with his father taught him the importance of getting to know your clients in a personal way. He decided to take his father’s advice on board and has enjoyed a phenomenal real estate career ever since.

Greg tells his story about working in property management when, in his own words, he was ‘probably more focused on just getting the job done and moving on to the next thing’.

He recalls, “I had a few little issues – a few landlords and tenants didn't like the way I was doing business with them. The situation reached a peak when, over three days, three or four landlords requested that their properties be given to other agents to manage.

"Dad took me for a drive and we parked on the side of the road a couple kilometres from the office. We sat there and had the toughest conversation of my life. He looked at me and said, ‘Son, if you were anyone else, I would give you the sack. You have two choices: either make the decision to improve, or we’ll have to find you somewhere else to work’. Dad then gave me some advice, for which I will always be grateful. He advised me to get to know these people a little better."

The conversation with his father was a defining moment. After the longest night of his life and a lot of soul searching, Greg made the decision that he was not going to quit.

"I decided that I was going to be good at it. I bought the book, ‘How to Win Friends and Influence People’, and read it from cover to cover. I still have that book today. From that point on I made it a habit that every time I spoke to a landlord or a tenant, I would always ask how they were, what they did for a living and other general chit chat. It was amazing how much people opened up once I actually started to chat with them and get to know them on a personal level, rather than just arrange to have their problem fixed and move on.

"Around six months later, I had a German landlord named Hans, who we managed a few properties for. Chatting with him, I learned that he ran a headstone memorial business and that he loved music. At Christmas time I took him a bottle of red wine to thank him for his business. He was probably in his sixties back then and I was in my twenties. He had big blu-ray disc speakers and he put a Dire Straits record on his big screen while we sat in his big recliners, listening. I didn’t know it at the time, but Hans had another twelve properties that were managed through other agents. Over a couple years, I eventually earned the right to manage them all. We still manage all of his properties today, twenty years later. Doing the right thing and really trying to get to know people outside of work and their properties (this advice applies equally to sales) has been the benchmark of my career ever since."

Greg's golden rules

Real estate is a long-term prospect

Much of my business today comes from buyers who I first started chatting with fifteen years ago. I sold a young couple their first home and they lived there for seven years. I sold that home for them and helped them negotiate on another property, which they bought. I have since sold their brother a home and am now selling their mum’s home. I reach out to my clients all the time to ask them what’s happening. I’m just interested in getting to know them because I enjoy looking after people. Keep thinking about the long term.

People know who you are

You are never above anyone. I have a saying: we are not salespeople. We are normal people looking after other normal people. I think if you stand up for that motto you will always have a great real estate career.

Look after the buyers better than anyone else

In my opinion, offering buyers exceptional service is how your business will become strong. When people buy from you, their friends and family will ask who they bought through, especially first-time buyers. There is no better way to earn respect than if you look after someone’s kids properly. The parents will respect you 110%, even more.

 

Danny Grant

Adapt, innovate and change

Danny Grant has not only worked with premier brands all over Sydney’s Lower North Shore, he's also been a trainer and educator for Real Estate Academy, touring all over Australia. He has appeared on the famous audio program called Auctioncraft and has been interviewed fourteen times for Real Estate Hot Topics. Thousands of people have profited from his knowledge.

Danny has always been open to adapt, innovate and change in his business, which has created opportunities for massive breakthroughs.

Danny's Golden Rules

You are in charge

The earlier you get rid of the mentality that you're an employee, the better off you'll be as an agent. You are responsible for your career. I find the agents who sit back and wait for others to offer to provide the marketing or the leads are doomed. People who run their own business have a completely different mentality. They're hungrier; they know how to get the business. Work in that mindset. It's up to you.

Have a plan

You need a plan, even if it's very brief. Ask yourself what your plan is and what you want to do with your career.

It’s good to have a five-year plan broken down into twelve-month units. Then you can ask yourself:

  • What kind of agent do I want to be?
  • What training am I going to do?
  • What prospecting am I going to do?
  • What do I need to implement in my business?
  • What marketing strategies do I need?

Once you start mapping that out and following it on a daily basis, it will create momentum in the business, even if you don't have any listings right now.

Learn your craft

Eliminate the noise and stay true to yourself as an agent. I always wanted to learn my craft and be really good at it, so someone would hire me and pay me a lot of money. I wanted to be very skilled at what I did, so I trained and trained and trained. I was an avid Hot Topics listener and went to The Complete Salesperson Course many times. I just couldn't get enough of it. I really had a thirst and hunger to learn.

Do the right thing by people, and look after them

That was my upbringing, that's the way I am. That's the way I want to be as an agent. Sometimes you'll get taken off that course, or people will say certain things to you in training that don't resonate with you, or you'll be in an office that doesn't match who you are as a person. Someone told me years ago when I was looking to move from an office space, ‘If you have to change who you are as a person, you shouldn't be working where you are’.

Create a brand

You are in business for yourself, so you need to think of yourself as a brand and market yourself accordingly. Think about how you want people to perceive you. How do you look? How do you speak? Once you've established a brand and how you want to appear to the marketplace, consider how your marketing looks. How do your open houses look? How do you talk to the buyers and the vendors? What sort of photographs do you use? What's the perception of your brand? Once you've established these basics, stick with them. Don't change. Stick to who you are and what works in your marketplace.

Build a database

Do it straight away. Once you start prospecting and capturing information, you need to establish a database. Find one that's capable of sending out bulk emails and SMSs: one that will keep you notified of who you need to call and what anniversaries you need to be reminded of. You obviously don't have any listings at the start, so you need to be doing appraisals and getting data pretty quickly. There’s no point in doing this if you don’t capture it and stay in touch with your database.

Choose an area that you are familiar with. What kind of people want to live here? You need to understand and mirror your market. I work in a very family-orientated market, with similar-aged kids to mine. I didn’t have any kids when I started in my early twenties, so it wasn't quite so simple for me then. I had to mirror the market to ascertain who my potential clients were going to be. You might need to follow suit in terms of how you appeal to those people.

Don't chop and change: try and stick to it for a while because you are not going to be successful straight away in an area. It will take time. It will take between thirteen and fifteen points of contact to persuade those people to trust you. You may need to take some listings slightly out of your area for a while, but you will always need to focus on your main area.

Prospecting tools

There is a lot of noise in the industry around prospecting tools. You just need to choose your tools and use them well, and consistently. One example that many agents find quite effective is working from Open for Inspection lists. I would also advise that you work from Just Listed and Just Sold lists, whether they are yours or not. You will be surprised how many of your competitors use this information when something comes onto or off the market. You don't have to list and sell something yourself, you can leverage other agents' stock. Choose around four or five things that you will do consistently well and stick with them. Don’t introduce anything new unless you drop something old. Otherwise you just won’t do it.

Be customer-focused

Think about how your clients see you as an agent. If you work in a familyorientated market and you have a flashy sports car, showing off to other agents in the industry because you think that they care, what would your customers think? Does that behaviour suit your brand and who you are? Don't listen to the noise in the industry, and don't listen to what agents are or are not doing with their gross commissions, because most of the figures are not real.

Have a social media plan

When I first started, social media didn't exist. It took me a little while, but now we've adapted to it. It’s a marketing outlet that enables you to reach people and your demographic very quickly. Create a social media plan. It's a substitute for letterbox drops and newspaper advertising for me. Instagram, Facebook, and LinkedIn will be the main social media that you need to focus on.

Learn as much as possible

Learn dialogue. Attend courses. Listen to audio. We are so lucky to have twenty years of amazing audio stock on Real Estate Hot Topics, and some past issues have some great dialogue on them about how people run their businesses. I have always enjoyed going to seminars, but be careful about what seminars you attend. If they are just agents talking about how good they are, you won’t really learn much content. Look for what you can adapt to your business.

Be patient

It's not going to happen overnight. It's going to take a while, which is advice that can be hard to accept when you hear so much noise about overnight successes. So many good agents leave the industry within twelve months when they're on the verge of hitting the jackpot. If you are diligently following the suggestions but you’re not yet seeing the rewards of your efforts, rest assured success will come, but maybe not for six or even twelve months.

At one point I asked Lee (Woodward) in despair what he thought I should do? Lee assured me that it would come and that I was doing all the right things. He was right.

Featured in Lee Woodward’s new book ‘How to Prospect for Future Business in Real Estate’. Out early 2019.  

 

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